Tag Archives: The Thermals

Year 2012

To be honest, the past year seems a bit flat or grey. It surely hasn’t been a bad year, and when I come to think of it surprisingly many big adventures, including exotic travel and exciting courses, have actually filled the year. Yet I don’t want it as a template for the ones to follow either.

It has also been great to be closer to and have more visits from my family than in recent years (although still a few hours away by car). I’ve also had a good job surrounded by nice colleagues.

The problem, I suspect, is that something has been missing in the everyday life. A mismatch between the surrounding city and me. And a stand still in personal development. This has made for a year of far too many pointless days.

Lesson learned perhaps, that the occasional escapes providing spikes of happiness cannot form a meaningful year unless the days in-between are also good? That unhappy weekdays cannot be compensated for by the occasional adventures, but in fact puts them in the shadows?

Supposedly it has something to do with Paris and wanting something else from life. It also begs the question of whether or not I can lead a happy life without the big adventures? But let’s return to that in a later post when finishing the PhD has left more air for reflection.

Instead, let’s have a summary of the adventures that after all made the year stand out in some ways.

First of all, the year provided several regular appointments to sweeten the everyday, including obtaining a motorcycle license and taking a photography course in darkroom film and print development. As I haven’t bought a motorcycle yet the license so far only represents good memories, but often during autumn have I found happiness in getting into film photography and going to the darkroom.

My bimonthly guitar lessons have been oases of life that each time without exception made me forget whatever troubled me and brought me back to the present. With my teacher we have covered among others songs of Iggy Pop, The Clash, The Thermals, and Surfer Blood. The idea of writing my own songs, or even playing live, is still far away; but the improvements are noticeable and things are coming more easily now.

The year also saw going to the fitness centre replaced by going to the squash centre. I decided back in Paris that I must have some kind of sport in my life (called this a value or axiom), but the former simply became too much of a duty; squash on the other hand is still fresh and motivating.

Moving on to the bigger singular adventures, work took me to Boston, Houston, and New York City in the US; Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and The Dead Sea in Israel; and Bonaire in the Caribbean. Curiously enough, they all crammed together in the first few months of the year, in one case giving only a few days of rest in-between.

The two weeks at Boston University gave several new inputs academically and I greatly enjoyed the teaching and hospitality of my host. My girlfriend joined me for one of the weeks and together we also saw a fair bit of the city. I think it’s a city that gives a better impression during summer yet we still enjoyed both its atmosphere and its exhibitions. And although it was smaller than I had expected, its skyscrapers and architecture (as always in the US) installed a shock and fascination in my european eyes.

Next up was Israel for the one week winter school on lattice-based crypto held just outside Tel-Aviv. During the week we got to see parts of Tel-Aviv and for the weekend we rented a car to go to Jerusalem and The Dead Sea. My interest in Israel was definitely sparkled by this trip and it’s been put on my list of places to come back to.

Straight after Israel I headed for a week-long conference on Bonaire. My girlfriend joined me again and during the scheduled eight hours overlay in Houston (clever clever) we had a look at the city and found what looked like a proper Texan BBQ restaurant. On Boniare I managed to resist the temptation of skipping out on the conference to go diving (unlike many of my colleagues) and instead went with my girlfriend evenings and after the conference was over — great place for diving, and first time night diving. On the way back we again had a scheduled five hours overlay in New York City (clever clever, although we almost missed the plane) to go for a quick burger and a walk in Central Park.

Continuing in travel, we spent a few weekends in spring following Marguerituren around Denmark (onetwo, three, four, and five). I’m glad we saw the country from this romantic angle, and later during our summer trip to Sweden we did not hesitate to spend the extra time and petrol taking the Swedish equivalent when the opportunity presented itself. An excellent trip by the way, that included tenting (one and two), Stockholm, and a sailing course north of Göteborg. To finish off our nordic summer we also spent a weekend in beautiful Norway visiting old friends.

I’ve also attended a lot of great concerts during the year. The Thermals played in Paris during spring. The Northside Festival featured both Noah and the WhaleThe Asteroids Galaxy Tour, and Kashmir. We finally managed to catch The Buzzcocks, and could throw in Rancid and Cock Sparrer at the same time. Certainly also worth mentioning is Daniel Norgren whom we first caught a bit unexpected at a blues concert at Tobakken in Esbjerg but ended up also booking tickets for at Atlas in Aarhus.

Naturally I’ve also spent some time in France, of which a long walk I in the streets of beautiful Paris with a camera in my hand stands out most memorable — fortunately this is still a guarantee of happiness.

And last, but not least, a weekend in London cemented the belief that big cities are the next step.

Much Needed Weekend In Paris + The Thermals

I just came home from a much needed weekend in Paris. My girlfriend had a few things to take care of in the city, and I managed to convince her that this was the best weekend to go. Why? Because The Thermals were playing! As it turned out, they weren’t there to promote a new album, but as part of the Keep Portland Weird project taking place at the new La Gaîté Lyrique. I brought the small compact camera to capture a few shots:

The concert was of course good, but given that it was not “their own” it didn’t match the one they gave last year, nor the year before. The crowd was also very different, appearing to be there less because they already knew the band and more because of the whole Keep Portland Weird thing. Anyway, as always I had a blast and managed to peep a few tricks on how to play their tunes on the guitar. Two things keep striking me about these guys: 1) they genuinely seem like they are having fun together (on stage), and 2) they seem to be very down to earth and nice. This is definitely not something I’ve noticed in a lot of bands.

Naturally, we also spent some time wandering in the city. I got a few snapshots from around the city:

and a few from the never disappointing passe-temps, people watching from a cafe:

It was raining at the time, and hence it partially developed into a survey in on umbrellas, bow wow!

Going to see The Thermals

I’m leaving for Paris today, partially in order to catch the Thermals concert on 6 April. Finally! I’ve been waiting for this ever since they kicked arse at Point Ephémère a bit more than a year ago in the autumn of 2010. I even wrote them an email at some point asking when they would come back to Paris. They thanked me for the interest and said spring 2011.

So why the huge interest? First of all, the music is quite energizing. In the morning, during the day, and after work, putting on a Thermals album never fails to raise my beat and make my feet follow the drums. If not because of the soft punky energy it emits then because of the smile their raw naive tunes bring to the face.

Secondly, at the concert last year I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. They seemed genuinely happy to be there. And a bit nerdy in a very lovable kind of way – the drummer never parted with his silly happy smile; the bassist, living a bit in her own world, alternated between jumping and experimenting with monitor feedback by bringing the bass close it. Maybe the lead singer came off a bit arrogant – or maybe I read it in an interview later – but still in a cute younger-brother-trying-to-show-off kind of way. During the concert they managed to create a connecting with me that I only rarely get at a gig (Mumford & Sons did it as well). This was in sharp contrast with the Arctic Monkeys I saw a few months after and who seemed quite arrogant and almost annoyed that they had to come and play. Experience wise the 35€ I paid for this seemed up side down with the 15€ I paid for Thermals.

Joy Division has later joined them but Thermals were the first band to make it to my list of tracks I would play cover versions of, if I ever am to go on stage doing that. In fact, together with Springsteen and Clash I had Thermals in mind when I went shopping for my first guitar and later started to play.

I can’t completely rule out that my romantic memory of the concert may be coloured of me being new and naive in Paris. But  expectations are high!